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Financing an Aircraft Engine Upgrade? Industry’s Top Tips

Financing an Aircraft Engine Upgrade? Industry’s Top Tips

If an engine upgrade makes sense for your aircraft, you don’t necessarily have to foot the bill up-front. Gerrard Cowan, with AvBuyer, speaks to a selection of industry experts to find out when financing might make the most sense, and how to approach this.

There can be significant benefits to an engine upgrade for business aircraft where they are available. Operational performance is enhanced, fuel consumption lessened, and resale value can be boosted. But how can owners considering an engine upgrade set about financing their upgrade?

This is a complex area, with an owner’s decisions likely to be influenced by a variety of factors, such as their demands for the aircraft in the long-term, the age of the platform, and any existing financing arrangements.

For many business aircraft owners, it could make sense to simply acquire an entirely new aircraft. But for some, a good option is to remove their existing engine(s) and replace it/them with another.

Blackhawk Aerospace is a specialist provider of such engine upgrade work through its XP Engine+ Upgrade program. As of May 2024, the company had upgraded over 1,000 Beechcraft King Air, Cessna Caravan, Conquest and Piper Cheyenne aircraft with factory-new Pratt & Whitney Canada engines.

Edwin Black, the company’s President, explains that the company develops Supplemental Type Certificates (STCs) to take the stock engine out of an aircraft and install a brand- new engine with more horsepower.

“The demand is strong because everyone wants to go faster,” he says. “We are seeing more demand now than we ever have in Blackhawk's 25-year history and it’s because of the convenience of flying private vs commercial, especially when you are flying for your business.”

When is it Easiest to Finance an Aircraft Engine Upgrade?

The easiest way to finance an upgrade is “if you don’t have an aircraft already and are in the market, because you can buy the aircraft and engines at the same time and roll them into the same loan,” he suggests.

When you already have an engine, however, it takes more effort to get financing, though Blackhawk has been working with providers who have offered such solutions for just the engine for some time. “Financing helps customers enjoy the benefits of flying faster sooner rather than later,” Black adds.

Pratt & Whitney Canada (P&WC) has worked closely with Blackhawk for over 20 years, explains Geoffrey Corbeil, Executive Director for Commercial Services at the engine manufacturer, highlighting that Blackhawk celebrated its 150th upgrade of a Cessna Caravan in October 2023 with two options available: XP140 and Vy conversions, featuring P&WC PT6A-140 and PT6A-42A engines, respectively.

According to Corbeil, financing options will naturally depend on the owner’s circumstances. But, even when financing is involved, there can be a significant increase in aircraft value, he adds.

More broadly, Corbeil says owners should consider enrolling in an engine program, such as P&WC’s ESP.

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This article was originally published by AvBuyer on June 24, 2024.